Bumps, Bruises and Bowouts
Danny Amendola – Ankle
Denard Robinson – Ankle
Chris Boswell – Abdomen
Kapri Bibbs – Ankle
Charles Clay – Baby
Braxton Miller – Shoulder
Lamar Miller – Ribs
Adam Humphries – Concussion
Cecil Shorts – Knee
Jamison Crowder – Hip pointer
Julio Jones – Ankle
Week 13 introduced bad weather into the equation with snow in both Green Bay and Chicago. That must become a part of your fantasy starting decisions. So will the most difficult characteristic of all – will players remain highly motivated at the end of a bad season? This is the time of year that teams shift to a higher gear in an all out push to make the playoffs or take their foot off the accelerator since they are not headed anywhere.
Better Late Than Never
Big performances are critical to remain in the hunt for a fantasy championship and timing is everything. All that matters is this week and the next.
Tyler Lockett (Seahawks) – The surprising wideout from last year struggled through knee and thigh injuries and disappointed fantasy owners. Facing the visiting Panthers, Lockett not only turned in a season-high five catches for 63 yards, he added a 75-yard touchdown run to open the second half. The Seahawks won four of their last five games and lead the NFC West. Lockett’s improvement will help in the final weeks against the Packers, Rams and Cardinals.
Thomas Rawls (Seahawks) – The leading rusher for Seattle last year, Rawls also missed time with a broken leg but had his 2016 coming out party with 106 yards and two touchdowns in the defeat of the Panthers. Rawls will be looking at a heavy workload for these final three weeks of the fantasy season.
Ladarius Green (Steelers) – The Steelers replaced Heath Miller by signing the ex-Charger Ladarius Green to a four-year contract in the offseason. He was hoped to help ease the loss of Martavis Bryant while upgrading the tight end position with youth and speed. But Green was plagued by concussion and ankle issues and saw limited production since becoming active in Week 10. Facing the stout Giants defense last week, Green became leading receiver with 11 targets for six catches and 110 yards and a touchdown. Antonio Brown was held to only 54 yards on his six catches. No other receiver managed more than two short catches.
Green should continue his elevated role during the next match-ups with the Bills, Bengals and Ravens who sport above average secondaries that will be focused on stopping Brown.
Jarvis Landry (Dolphins) – The leading receiver from 2015 started the season with 41 catches for 494 yards over the initial six games. But once Jay Ajayi had his breakout, the offense shifted gears to a ball-control scheme relying mostly on rushing. Landry only caught 23 passes for 237 yards over the next five match-ups while Ajayi tore up their opponents. Facing the #1 defense against running backs in the Ravens last Sunday, Ajayi was limited to only 12 carries. Landry turned in a season-high 11 catches for 87 yards.
The Dolphins face the Cardinals, Jets and Patriots and should rely more on their slot receiver in these final weeks. The Cardinals are ranked #2 against running backs and the Jets will be tougher in New York for this meeting. The Patriots already gave up ten catches for 135 yards to Landry in Week 2.
Checking the Game Program
A few new names not only suddenly appeared in box scores, but they actually ended up being one of the best players for their team.
Paul Turner (Eagles) – Jordan Matthews was inactive due to an ankle injury and Turner stepped in to lead the Eagles with 80 yards on six catches. The undrafted slot receiver from Louisiana Tech impressed in the preseason when he led the NFL with 17 catches for 165 yards. He languished behind the starters this season but finally made the most of his first game action.
Neal Sterling (Jaguars) – The 2016 seventh-round pick is a converted tight end that played wideout at Monmouth College for four years and at 6-3/240 pounds he is built to catch instead of block. Sterling only had three receptions this season but against the Broncos last Sunday, he caught a team high five passes for 43 yards while replacing the injured Julius Thomas.
Freddie Martino (Buccaneers) – Once Tampa Bay lost both Adam Humphries (concussion) and Cecil Shorts (knee), the third-year undrafted free agent stepped in during the win over the Chargers. Martino would end up second on the team with 56 yards on four catches. Shorts is gone for the year and Humphries will have his status determined later in the week. This is notable mostly because the next three games involve playing in Dallas and facing the Saints twice.
Life After Gronk
The Patriots have won all three games since Rob Gronkowski last contributed but Martellus Bennett has not been a part of the equation. Bennett totals only six catches for 40 yards in those games while Julian Edelman caught eight passes in each and comes off a season-best 101 yards in the win over the Rams.
Bennett has nursed both shoulder and ankle injuries in recent weeks. But Tom Brady is already successful relying most on both Edelman and the rookie Malcolm Mitchell who comes off a career best eight catches for 82 yards. The Patriots have already changed gears in the passing scheme to rely more on the wide receivers.
The 49ers are on an 11 game losing streak but at least made the effort in the loss to the Dolphins in Week 12. They scored 24 points and Colin Kaepernick would record one of his best performances ever with 113 rushing yards, 296 passing yards and four touchdowns. But in the wintry conditions in Chicago, the entire team went flat. Kaepernick was benched at the end of the third quarter when he had only completed one pass for four yards and ran six times to gain 20 yards.
Blaine Gabbert was little better when only 35 yards from his four completions. Carlos Hyde ran for 92 yards on 20 carries but the rest of the team put up little fight. The weather was a factor but Matt Barkley threw for 192 yards on only 11 completions while Jordan Howard would rush a career high 32 times for 117 yards and three touchdowns.
The 49ers host the Jets and then end with trips to Atlanta and Los Angeles. Head coach Chip Kelly’s first season is ending with a whimper.
Many fantasy teams carry just one kicker and one defense. You need two. The Steelers kicker Chris Boswell was a case in point when he never showed on an injury report until Saturday and wasn’t ruled out until right before the win over the Giants. Bad weather resulted in only six points from kickers for both the Bears and 49ers while the Packers were limited to only three points and the Texans just one. Check the waiver wire for kickers playing in Dallas, Atlanta, New Orleans, Houston, St. Louis, Detroit, Indianapolis and Arizona. Domes at least ensure that weather won’t affect kicking.
Home Sweet Home
The Chiefs trail the Raiders by one game in the AFC West and their playoff push looks to be downhill with three consecutive home games. This week they’ll host the Raiders that they already beat in Week 6 when Spencer Ware totaled 163 yards and one touchdown. Next up are the Titans that allowed Matt Barkley to pass for 316 yards and three touchdowns in their last road venue and then Week 16 is the home meeting against the Broncos they just beat 30-27 in Denver during Week 12. Ware, Travis Kelce and the Chiefs defense are finishing the fantasy season on a high note.
MIA 6, BAL 38
This is how you end a six game winning streak. With no offense in a game that got away from them immediately. Ryan Tannehill threw three interceptions and Jay Ajayi (12-61)was only given 12 carries. But without the rushing effort, the Dolphins finally relied on Jarvis Landry (11-87). Joe Flacco passed for 381 yards and four touchdowns with Dennis Pitta (9-90, 2 TD) the only one with more than 59 yards. Terrance West totaled 68 yards and two scores. The 7-5 Dolphins host the Cardinals this week while the 7-5 Ravens head to New England.
SF 6, CHI 26
This could have gone better for the 49ers. Colin Kaepernick followed up his big Week 11 performance by only completing one of five passes for four yards before getting benched in the Chicago blizzard. Blaine Gabbert (4-10-35) wasn’t any better. Carlos Hyde (20-92) was the only working part in the snow. Matt Barkley threw for 192 yards but only Josh Bellamy (4-93) mattered. Jordan Howard controlled the game with 117 yards on 32 carries with three touchdowns. Now the 1-11 49ers host the Jets while the 3-9 Bears head to Detroit.
PHI 14, CIN 32
The Bengals took the win with a surprisingly effective passing performance by Andy Dalton (332 yards, 2 TD). Brandon LaFell (5-95, TD) was the only notable receiver of the nine players with a catch. Jeremy Hill only gained 33 yards on 23 carries but scored once. Carson Wentz threw for 308 yards and a score but had three interceptions. The top receiver was Paul Turner (6-80) and probably was not a fantasy starter anywhere since the undrafted free agent rookie had never caught an NFL pass but was replacing Jordan Matthews. For two weeks, Wendell Smallwood (8-19) was due to be the primary rusher and it has yet to mean anything. Now the 5-7 Eagles have to host the Redskins and the 4-7-1 Bengals travel to Cleveland where all things are possible.
HOU 13. GB 21
It only took 12 games, but DeAndre Hopkins caught a 44-yard touchdown and yet still only totaled three catches for 58 yards. Brock Osweiler threw for 202 yards and two scores but Lamar Miller was limited to only 22 yards on 14 carries and his single catch was a four-yard loss. Aaron Rodgers ended up with just 209 yards and two scores and Jordy Nelson (8-118, TD) was the only receiver with more than 19 yards. This was a snowy game with dropped passes and most of the scoring happened in the fourth quarter. The 6-6 Texans play in Indianapolis this week while the 6-6 Packers host the Seahawks.
DEN 20, JAX 10
A boring game but what could we expect with the Broncos featuring Paxton Lynch (104 yards) and the Jaguars featuring the Jaguars. The Broncos won thanks to a interception return for a score and Devontae Booker (18-35, TD) running in a score that Kapri Bibbs set up. Blake Bortles only passed for 181 yards and two interceptions and their best receiver was naturally the second-year tight end Nate Sterling (5-43) whose entire career had only witnessed three catches for 26 yards. The positive here was that no one expected much from any Jaguar anyway. Now the 8-4 Broncos head to Tennessee while the 2-10 Jaguars host the very appreciative Vikings.
LA 10, NE 26
When Tom Brady (269 yards, TD) plays down to the level of his opponent, it is just a bad week all around. LeGarrette Blount (18-88, TD) and Julian Edelman (8-101) turned in nice efforts but Martellus Bennett (2-4) isn’t keeping up the tight end tradition. Jared Goff (161 yards, 1 TD) struggled as expected and only a 66-yard completion to Kenny Britt (2-67, TD) saved his stat line. Mostly this was just a disappointment though seeing Stephen Gostkowski kick four field goals was a nice blast from the past. The 4-8 Rams host the Falcons this week while the 10-2 Patriots march on to Baltimore.
DET 28, NO 13
Upset. The Lions rolled up a nice win that was sealed late with a 66-yard touchdown by Golden Tate (8-145, TD) and Matt Stafford (341 yards, 2 TD) had a solid game. No other Lions’ player managed more than 49 yards. The Saints were just flat. Mark Ingram ran for just 37 yards on seven runs and Drew Brees – at home versus the Lions – only passed for 326 yards and no scores with three interceptions. Coby Fleener (5-86) and Brandin Cooks (7-73) were as good as it got. The win sends the 8-4 Lions home to face the Bears while the 5-7 Saints travel to Tampa Bay.
BUF 24, OAK 38
Very good game that went back and forth before the Raiders found another gear in the second half. Make no mistake – the Bills are nothing more than LeSean McCoy who ran for 130 yards on 17 carries and was the leading receiver with seven catches for 71 yards. Sammy Watkins was next with only 38 yards. Derek Carr ended with 260 yards and two scores split between Michael Crabtree (7-74, TD) and Amari Cooper (2-59, TD). Latavius Murray (20-82, 2 TD) had a big game but Jalen Richard ran for 53 yards on nine carries as well. The 6-6 Bills host the Steelers this week while the 10-2 Raiders head to Kansas City for a very big game.
WAS 23, ARI 31
This was a back and forth game the entire time. Carson Palmer ended with 300 yards and three touchdowns and the best receivers were Larry Fitzgerald (10-78) and of course David Johnson (9-91, TD) who also rushed for 84 yards and a score. Kirk Cousins passed for 271 yards and a score plus rushed in one as well but the best receiver was Pierre Garcon with only 78 yards on seven catches. Robert Kelley was held to only 14 runs for 63 yards. Now the 6-5-1 Redskins head to Philadelphia while the 5-6-1 Cardinals play in Miami.
NYG 14, PIT 24
No surprises here. Eli Manning had his normal average road performance with 195 yards with two touchdowns and two interceptions. Odell Beckham ended with 100 yards on 10 catches but the only other mildly interesting Giant was Rashad Jennings catching six passes for 34 yards and a score though he only rushed for 19 yards. Ben Roethlisberger threw for 289 yards and two scores and this was the Ladarius Green breakout game with six catches for 110 yards and a score. Antonio Brown settled for just 54 yards on six catches but scored once. Le’Veon Bell totaled 182 yards but did not score. The 8-4 Giants host the Cowboys this week for a very big game while the 7-5 Steelers head to Buffalo.
TB 28, SD 21
Another upset though it was more about an improving Buccaneers team than anything else. Jameis Winston passed for 280 yards and one touchdown to Cameron Brate (6-86, TD) while Mike Evans was held to only 38 yards. Doug Martin (17-45, TD) and an interception return for a score helped make the difference. The Chargers fell short in the fourth quarter after trading the lead back and forth. Philip Rivers passed for 225 yards and two scores but no receiver had more than the four catches for 54 yards by Melvin Gordon who ran for 84 yards and one score. The win sends the 7-5 Buccaneers back home to face the Saints while the 5-7 Chargers head to Carolina.
CAR 7, SEA 40
Good day for the Seahawks, Russell Wilson threw for 277 yards and one score for Jimmy Graham (6-63) and oddly there were four different receivers all between 63 and 68 yards. Thomas Rawls ran for 106 yards and two scores while Tyler Lockett took a hand-off and blazed 75 yards down the sideline for a score. Cam Newton only passed for 182 yards and a score for Ted Ginn (5-80, TD). But Greg Olsen and Kelvin Benjamin combined for only 48 yards and five catches. Now the 4-8 Panthers host the Chargers and the 8-3-1 Seahawks head to Green Bay.
Huddle Player of the Week
David Johnson – He’s flirting with being the overall fantasy MVP this year since he’s never had fewer than 100 total yards in any game. This time it was 84 rushing and 91 receiving yards with nine receptions and two touchdowns. He’s been a huge difference maker for every fantasy owner and a dominating player to start.
Drama 101 – Somebody has to Laugh, Somebody has to Cry
|QB||Joe Flacco||381||4||QB||Drew Brees||326||0|
|RB||Terrance West||68||2||RB||Lamar Miller||18||0|
|RB||Mike Gillislee||49||2||RB||Todd Gurley||47||0|
|WR||Brandon LaFell||95||1||WR||Emmanuel Sanders||28||0|
|WR||Josh Bellamy||105||0||WR||Mike Evans||38||0|
|WR||Breshad Perriman||59||1||WR||Kelvin Benjamin||18||0|
|TE||Dennis Pitta||90||2||TE||Jason Witten||nope||0|
|PK||Matt Prater||5 FG 1 XP||PK||Mason Crosby||3 XP|
|Huddle Fantasy Points = 146||Huddle Fantasy Points = 26|
Kansas City 29, Atlanta 28
What a great game and one of the most memorable ones that will come out of 2016. The Chiefs are one of those maddening “just good enough” teams that are almost impossible to forecast other than they usually are “just good enough” in whatever way it needs to be.
Most of the scoring happened in the first half when the Chiefs left 20-16. Albert Wilson ran for a 55-yard touchdown early in the third for a 27-16 lead that would last into the fourth quarter.
Devonta Freeman would run in a score to make it 27-22 and then with 4:32 left in the game, Aldrick Robinson caught a five yard pass to make it 28-27. Kicking an extra point only would make it 29-27 so the only reasonable thing was to go for two points and thereby make the Chiefs need a field goal to tie. Except that never happened.
Eric Berry is a strong safety who scored on an interception return in the first half. Eric Berry is a strong safety who now owns the only “Pick 2” in NFL history that won a game. The Falcons went from leading 28-27 to trailing 29-28 and they had to kick the ball away. That was, of course, a failed on-sides kick try and the Falcons never again saw the ball.
The Chiefs only had 29 rush yards and a score from Spencer Ware. But Travis Kelce (8-140) and Tyreek Hill (5-53) helped out. Matt Ryan was held to 297 yards and one score while Julio Jones still managed to catch seven passes for 113 yards. Devonta Freeman ended with 105 total yards and two scores.
This was a great “slap your forehead” way to end a game. And it may just make coaches rethink that “go for two” thing in a few cases.
We wrap up a week with two snow games and the realization that the Lions, Buccaneers, Steelers and Ravens are just not going to go away, The season is ending with a few monster performances each week and yet not that many truly bad ones from fantasy starters.
Hope you’re cruising towards your league title and that all your two-point plays go the right way.
Now get back to work…